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Rangers Vs. Devils: Player And Position Evaluations

Notes from the Rangers preseason loss to the Devils last night.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of doing regular notes for the first few preseason games when players are fighting for spots, I thought it might be a little better to do individual player and position evaluations. There are more than a few roster spots open, so some of these battles might be pretty competitive.

Below I give each player a quick summary grade before going into more details. Keep in mind, these are based off of one preseason game.

J.T. Miller (Stock is skyrocketing): Miller finished the game with two assists, but his performance was impressive for so many more reasons than just the stats. He simply looked more poised and polished and he distributed the puck really well. His pass to Ryan Malone for the Rangers' lone power play goal was quick and decisive, and he didn't look like a complete disaster in his own zone, either. Simply put: It's just one game, but Miller is going to make the 3C decision much easier if he keeps playing like that.

Danny Kristo (Stock is rising): We heard a little about how Kristo was "putting it together," but Monday night was the first chance we had to really see it in action. He tallied an assist and was single-handedly responsible for two or three prime chances. He had one or two open looks at goal and got stuffed, but overall it was a good day for Kristo. I still think his chances of making the team are slim, but he's going to make it a tougher decision to make if he can keep up this pace.

Kevin Hayes (Slow start before a strong finish): Hayes had a jittery first period. In the second he was pretty quiet but didn't really look out of place. And in the third he came out of his shell a little and showed what he's capable of. His highlight of the night was protecting the puck behind the net from two Devils' defenseman before dishing it to Kristo in the slot -- who saw his chance saved. Before that, Hayes deked his way around the defenseman on a 2-on-1 and laid a perfect pass to a streaking Rangers (I believe it was Steven Kampfer) who botched the chance. Easily could have had two assists, but overall it wasn't a bad game from him at all. I expect him to get stronger as the preseason goes on.

Ryan Malone (Fantastic first impression): I know it was against a Devils team with a good amount of tryouts, but Malone looked like a guy who is going to make the team. Not only did he score a power play goal, he was hanging around the Devils' crease all night wreaking havoc. He was physical in the corners and didn't shy away from going to the tough areas of the ice. There's nothing wrong with more big bodies on the ice.

Dan Boyle (Good but also tough to judge): I liked a lot of what I saw from Boyle. The Rangers seemed comfortable enough with him at the point of the power play to leave him up there by himself (something they never did in the past) and he did distribute the puck really well both with the man advantage and 5-on-5. Defensively there were a few gaffs with him and Marc Staal but some of that was the AHLers in front of them. (Which is also the reason why you can't look at Henrik Lundqvist or Cam Talbot's game with any real clarity.)

The Rangers 7th Defenseman Battle (It's just one game ... It's just one game): Last night the Rangers iced three of the six defenseman you'll see this year. The other three were the prime candidates fighting for the team's open seventh defenseman spot. None of Kampfer, Michael Kostka or Matt Hunwick stood out in a good way. In fact, they all stood out in bad ways. Again, just one preseason game, but what we did see wasn't very encouraging.

Tanner Glass (Was invisible, which is good): I only noticed Glass a few times, and none of them were accompanied by shrieks of outrage. I thought he played a fine 12 minutes and he even added an assist. He also killed over four minutes worth of PK time, good for third highest on the team. Not a bad showing from him at all.

The Power Play and Penalty Kill (too tough to judge): With the personnel the Rangers had out there, it's tough to judge either special teams unit. The power play had some veterans but they were mixed in with kids and hopefuls. The penalty kill was the same way. Too hard to judge.

Guys who are going to make the team who stood out in a positive way: Chris Kreider (what a goal) and Carl Hagelin (overall great game).